Preparing a business plan is the most important part of starting a business. So much rests on the business plan, from financing to suppliers. A business plan shows that you are prepared, educated, and dedicated to your business. A good business plan will define what your business is about, where you expect it to go in the future and how you will get there. The following outline the essentials of a good business plan.
1. Executive Summary - This explains about everything that is the rest of the business plan. It should be written to completely cover every aspect of the rest of the business plan. A good way to think about it is this may be the only part of the whole plan that gets read, so it should sell your business.
2. Table of Contents - Do not elaborate. Keep it short and to the point. You get to explain later.
3. Company Description - This should cover the basics of your business. What industry and what products/services your business provides. It should also cover what makes your business stand out from the competition and how you will be successful.
4. Market Analysis - This is where you prove that you have done your marketing research. You should explain about the industry, including target markets. Explain your competition and compare your business to them. Explain your marketing strategies and plans.
5. Technology - Explain the technology you will use and how new developments may affect your business.
6. Business Operations or Manufacturing - Explain how you will conduct business. What makes you better than the competition as far as operations.
7. Management and Ownership - Here you will need to name all the key personnel. Explain their skills, education and what they bring to the company.
8. Organization and Personnel - This is where you explain your personnel needs. State how many employees are needed, how you will pay them and what you will pay them. Also explain the personnel organizational structure.
9. Capital and Usage - This should be very detailed and explained. Starting with how much is needed to start and then projection of needs.
10. Financial - Here is where you get to project future gains and losses. You should list them quarterly until the business breaks even then annual reports are fine.
12. Appendices - Any resumes, references, copies of studies done or anything else to back up information in the business plan should be included here.
These 12 steps should help you put together a solid business plan. Just keep in mind that you should stick to the facts and back everything up with evidence.
About the author: Stephen Kreutzer is a freelance publisher based in Cupertino, California. He publishes articles and reports in various ezines and provides business information on Your Business Plan!